Spatially Resolved Neutral Wind Response Times During High Geomagnetic Activity Above Svalbard

Billett, Daniel and Wild, Jim and Grocott, Adrian and Aruliah, Anasuya and Ronksley, Amy and Walach, Maria and Lester, Mark (2019) Spatially Resolved Neutral Wind Response Times During High Geomagnetic Activity Above Svalbard. Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, 124 (8). 6950–6960. ISSN 2169-9402

[thumbnail of Billett_et_al_final]
Text (Billett_et_al_final)
Billett_et_al_final.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial.

Download (1MB)
[thumbnail of 2019JA026627]
Text (2019JA026627)
2019JA026627.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (4MB)


It has previously been shown that in the high-latitude thermosphere, sudden changes in plasma velocity (such as those due to changes in interplanetary magnetic field) are not immediately propagated into the neutral gas via the ion-drag force. This is due to the neutral particles (O, O 2, and N 2) constituting the bulk mass of the thermospheric altitude range and thus holding on to residual inertia from a previous level of geomagnetic forcing. This means that consistent forcing (or dragging) from the ionospheric plasma is required, over a period of time, long enough for the neutrals to reach an equilibrium with regard to ion drag. Furthermore, mesoscale variations in the plasma convection morphology, solar pressure gradients, and other forces indicate that the thermosphere-ionosphere coupling mechanism will also vary in strength across small spatial scales. Using data from the Super Dual Auroral Radar Network and a Scanning Doppler Imager, a geomagnetically active event was identified, which showed plasma flows clearly imparting momentum to the neutrals. A cross-correlation analysis determined that the average time for the neutral winds to accelerate fully into the direction of ion drag was 75 min, but crucially, this time varied by up to 30 min (between 67 and 97 min) within a 1,000-km field of view at an altitude of around 250 km. It is clear from this that the mesoscale structure of both the plasma and neutrals has a significant effect on ion-neutral coupling strength and thus energy transfer in the thermosphere.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Additional Information:
Accepted for publication in Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics. Copyright 2019 American Geophysical Union. Further reproduction or electronic distribution is not permitted.
ID Code:
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
19 Jul 2019 08:00
Last Modified:
27 Sep 2023 00:21